. . . . .
Conrad [awaking]. Stay! Spirits, stay!
Art thou a hell-born
Or word too true, sent by the mother of God?
Oh, tell me, queen of Heaven!
O God! if she, the city of the Lord,
Who is the heart, the brain, the ruling soul
Of half the earth; wherein all kingdoms, laws,
Authority, and faith do culminate,
And draw from her their sanction and their use;
The lighthouse founded on the rock of ages,
Whereto the Gentiles look, and still are healed;
The tree whose rootlets drink of every river,
Whose boughs drop Eden fruits on seaward isles;
Christ’s seamless coat, rainbowed with gems and hues
Of all degrees and uses, rend, and tarnish,
And crumble into dust!
Vanitas vanitatum, omnia vanitas!
Oh! to have prayed, and toiled—and lied—for this!
For this to have crushed out the heart of youth,
And sat by calm, while living bodies burned!
How! Gerard; sleeping!
Couldst thou not watch with me one hour, my son?
Ger. [awaking]. How! have I slept? Shame
on my vaporous brain!
And yet there crept along my hand from thine
A leaden languor, and the drowsy air
Teemed thick with humming wings—I slept perforce.
Forgive me (while for breach of holy rule
Due penance shall seem honour) my neglect.
Con. I should have beat thee for’t, an
Now I judge no man. What are rules and methods?
I have seen things which make my brain-sphere reel:
My magic teraph-bust, full-packed, and labelled,
With saws, ideas, dogmas, ends, and theories,
Lies shivered into dust. Pah! we do squint
Each through his loophole, and then dream, broad heaven
Is but the patch we see. But let none know;
Be silent, Gerard, wary.
Ger. Nay—I know nought
Of that which moves thee: though I fain would ask—
Con. I saw our mighty Mother, Holy Church,
Sit like a painted harlot: round her limbs
An oily snake had coiled, who smiled, and smiled,
And lisped the name of Jesus—I’ll not tell thee:
I have seen more than man can see, and live:
God, when He grants the tree of knowledge, bans
The luckless seer from off the tree of life,
Lest he become as gods, and burst with pride;
Or sick at sight of his own nothingness,
Lie down, and be a fiend: my time is near:
Well—I have neither child, nor kin, nor friend,
Save thee, my son; I shall go lightly forth.
Thou knowest we start for Marpurg on the morrow?
Thou wilt go with me?
Ger. Ay, to death, my master;
Yet boorish heretics, with grounded throats,
Mutter like sullen bulls; the Count of Saym,
And many gentlemen, they say, have sworn
A fearful oath: there’s danger in the wind.
Con. They have their quarrel; I was keen and
Gladio qui utitur, peribit gladio.
When Heaven is strong, then Hell is strong: Thou fear’st not?